Page images
PDF
EPUB

versal application; others adapted to the peculiar situation of the Jewish nation, and calculated for a people in that particular stage of civilization at which they were then arrived. The laws of the other class are avowedly instituted for a special purpose, and for a limited period. They form, as it were, a wall of separation betwixt the Israelites and the other nations of the earth. They chiefly consist of rites, and ceremonies, and observances, which were all doubtless of high importance, and of real though mysterious signification, but which we can now but very imperfectly comprehend. Nor is it necessary for us to seek for more than a general view of the intention of Providence in these ordinances; and that is so obvious as not to require either study or research.

By laws and usages so peculiar, they

were were distinguished from and prevented mixing with other nations. By all the ceremonies and rites of worship, they were reminded of the awful sanctity of Him who is the sole object of all religious praise and veneration. By some of these ceremonies they were reminded of what he had done, in times past, for them and for their ancestors, and of the deliverance he had wrought for them according to his word: by others they were taught to look forward in hope to the completion of the promise of a future blessing, which was to be the seal of the covenant; to which all the sacrifices of the law referred, and in which all its ceremonies were to terminate.

Concerning the precise nature of this blessing, they were not yet in a condition to be fully instructed. It was sufficient for them to be told by the heaven-inspired lawgiver, that this institution of rites and ceremonies was only intended as an introduction to a purer and more perfect system, in which they were to be instructed by a divine personage sent from God. That if they in the mean time pefformed the engagements they had come under to God, and strictly observed all the forms and ceremonies of the law, and acted up to all its moral precepts, the divine favour would be manifested to theifi irt a special and extraordinary manner; and that they should be blessed, nationally and individually, with an uncommon share of temporal felicity. ■ The promise made to Abraham of the district then known by the name of Canaan, and which was afterwards called Judea, was not only ratified; but a near period fixed for its accoin^ plishment. To these specific proVol. Ii. o mises; mises, threatcnings no less clear and specific were added. They were not only warned in general, that punishment would, in consequence of disobedience, be inflicted, but they were particularly instructed in the nature of the punishments ordained.

the

The history of the Jews, from this period until the coming of the Messiah, informs us how punctually, how literally, these promises and threatenings were fulfilled. Notwithstanding the demonstrations which God had given of his power and wisdom, his justice, mercy, and truth; notwithstanding the powerful impression these demonstrations made upon the senses, was such as to give to this rude and otherwise unenlightened people more sublime conceptions of the power and majesty of the Supreme Being than any other nation ever possessed; notwithstanding all this, they yielded to temptation. They, to whom God had revealed himself as a God of righteousness, turned aside from him and from his worship, and bent their knees in reverence to the idols of other nations. They made themselves images from the metals which they had dug from the bowels of the earth, and fell down before them, and worshipped them I You will doubtless think this a very strange infatuation. But, my dear Lady Elizabeth, let us not follow the example of Miss Gloss. Let us remember, that in the world idolatry was then the fashion; that they who thus forgot God, could plead the example of the great, and the mighty, and the powerful of the earth 1 Let us remember, too, that knowledge does not operate as a preserver of the heart, until it has been converted into an active principle. "Hear ye G S this J"

« PreviousContinue »